Kilham Tower

Has been described as a Questionable Pele Tower, and also as a Questionable Bastle

There are no visible remains

NameKilham Tower
Alternative NamesKellum
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishKilham

NT 88553258 The ruins of a peel tower at Kilham were taken down c.1915, but the foundations remain. It was situated NW of the camp and about 50 yds N. of the stream (MacLauchlan 1919).

Recommended to be built after a survey of 1541 and probably completed by 1584 (Vickers 1922).

There are no visible remains of the tower, and its site could not be established (F1 RWE 14-DEC-66).

Listed by King and Dodds. King suggests a site at NT914302 (sic). However this would place it in Kirknewton (Dodds 1999; King 1983). (PastScape)

It appears that, in accordance with the views of the Commissioners of 1541, a strong house was built at Kilham. This has been unfortunately recently destroyed, but it is said to have closely resembled, on a smaller scale, the bastle-house at Doddington, one of the most charming remains of Border architecture, only finished, as an inscription on it informs us, in 1584. (Bates 1891)

Towards the end of the 19th century, Bates (1891, 53-4) reported that a 'strong house' had recently been destroyed at Kilham. Bates' comments imply that he himself had not seen the structure, but it was reported to closely resemble, on a smaller scale, the bastle house at Doddington. This probably represents the same structure which the surveyor Henry MacLauchlan refers to as 'a Pele tower'. The ruins of this structure had been taken down a few years before MacLauchlan wrote, although the foundation stones still remained at that stage (MacLauchlan 1867, 35). His description suggests the building stood on the towards the north end of the village.

Thus the stronghouse at Kilham could have been built late in the 16th century, or even in the early 17th century, rather than the years following the 1541 survey, as might have been assumed. The example at Doddington, which the Kilham stronghouse was said to resemble, is shown by a datestone to have been built as late as 1584

The Kilham stronghouse could quite conceivably be roughly contemporary and form part of a continual process of residential fortification along the border, rather than a specific response to an official directive. (Northumberland National Park)

Gatehouse Comments

The tower is said by MacLauchlan to have been 'taken down a few years since' in his text of 1867 - this statement was repeated in 1919 hence the incorrect date of dismantling of the tower given in PastScape. This means the site was dismantled circa 1850 before the OS mapping of the area.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNT885325
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 75
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 115 (slight)
  • Graham, Frank, 1993, Northumberian Castles Aln, Tweed and Till (Butler Publishing) p. 34
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 22
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 350
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 221-2
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 128
  • Vickers, Kenneth H. (ed), 1922, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 11 p. 168-9 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 53-4 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • MacLauchlan, H., 1867, Notes not included in the memoirs already published on Roman roads (Alnwick) p. 35 online copy


  • MacLauchlan, H. 1919-22, History of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club Vol. 24 p. 465
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 53-4 online copy


  • The Archaeological Practice Ltd., 2004, 'Kilham Northumberland an archaeological and historical study of a border township' Northumberland National Park Historic Village Atlas (The Northumberland National Park Authority) online copy